Capurgana Travel Guide: Discover this treasure of Colombia
Sometimes we’ve wanted to abandon the messy urban environment and travel to a place where we can rest and relax. In Colombia there are many places just perfect for that task, but they are not so accessible or even known. That’s why we invite you today to know Capurgana. ¡Join us in this guide to one of the hidden treasures of the Caribbean!
¿What is Capurgana?
Capurgana is a town located near Acandi, in the Choco department, located in the border between Colombia and Panama. It lies on the Uraba gulf, and it has become a popular destination for tourists all over the world. Its near virgin flora and fauna, particularly in the Darien rainforest. Its clean beaches, mangles, rivers and cascades are very attractive to visitors any time of the year.
The region is a nodal place for many native and Raizal cultures. That’s evident in its gastronomy and craftsmanship. The food is a mixture between Pacific, Antioquean and Cordobese food. The handicrafts include woven bags and carved wood sculptures. The designs of the handicrafts have strong influence of the Cuna people, its original inhabitants. Actually, they were the ones that named the land Capurgana (or “land of chili”). Even though the indigenous people emigrated to the San Blas archipelago, in Panama, their cultural footprint still lives in Capurgana. The “god’s pool”, a rocky place with pure water ponds, was also an important part of Cuna mythology.
The place was initially colonized by people from Antioquia, who saw in Capurgana an ideal place for commerce and tourism. In 1974 it was built the first regional airport, called Narcisa Navas in honour of the tourism pioneer in Capurgana. Despite the civil war affected the region badly, the military presence and the peace process had made the area safe again. Thanks to that, the tourism has boomed in most recent years.
What to do in Capurgana?
The popularity that Capurgana has garnered is due to its natural beauty and the peace that the place gives. Nevertheless, plans in Capurgana go far beyond the mere relaxation and observation. Getting to know some of the best beaches in the Caribbean is a unique experience. The most important beach in Capurgana is known as La Caleta. With white coralline sand and crystalline waters, La Caleta is a natural wonder. There, you can perform many activities such as swimming, diving and snorkeling, plans offered by the hotels and private companies. This plans allow you to observe by first-hand the coral, the most highly biodiverse ecosystems in the region. It is always a good idea to have an expert with you, to whom you must ask for certificates and safety equipment.
There are also boat trips with lunch included to Soledad, Sapzurro and Aguacate beaches. The last one (‘avocado’ in Spanish), takes its name from the intense green of its waters, caused by some algae. If you want, you can also visit La Miel, in Panama, or even San Blas archipelago. To go into Panamanian territory, you have to ask for permission in the Panama consulate in Acandi.
Ecotourism in Capurgana
Sadly, the climate change has affected Capurgana. Near La Caleta there was another white sand beach called La Virgen del Uvito. Being a coralline beach, the rising level of the sea removed the sand and let only coral. The lack of sand is extremely dangerous as coral is highly piercing and it became impossible to take a bath in this beautiful beach. That’s why Capurgana promotes the ecological tourism. And there are many reasons to do so. Mainly, because of the majestic fauna, that requires very particular conditions for its preservation. Amongst the most important species that inhabit Capurgana, maybe the most vulnerable and appreciated are the turtles.
Between May and July, the Canaa and Carey turtles migrate to the beaches of Capurgana to lay their eggs. Only ten beaches in the world have the privilege to see this spectacle. These animals, 1.5 meters high and 2.5 meters wide, crawl by the beach looking for a perfect spot to lay their eggs and cover them with the sand. When the baby turtles are born, they must free themselves from the sand and run to the sea. Even though they are endangered, the town has worked to preserve the species. During the spawning, the town organizes the Turtle Festival, that keeps busy the fishermen while their activity is restricted.
How do I get to Capurgana?
To reach Capurgana there are two options: flying and traveling by land/sea.
The land route goes from Medellin to the Antioquia towns of Turbo or Necocli. The travel takes approximately nine hours, after that you have to take a boat or a ferry that takes between one and one and a half hours. Many hotels offer the transportation service from Turbo or Necocli to Capurgana. If you want to know the itineraries and prices for the trip, you can find them here. There, you can buy the tickets at the lowest prices at any time available. Traveling by bus in Colombia is now extremely safe and very low-cost. The roads have been improved and there are many bus companies available. Book now your road trip in Colombia and you will certainly have an amazing experience!
As Capurgana is located near the Darien region, it is highly recommended to vaccine against malaria and yellow fever. Also, it is important to use mosquito repellent and mosquito net. For the beach travelling wear sunscreen, hat or cap and comfortable clothes. In winter, from December to March, it is advised to wear warm clothes and raincoat.
For tourists and nationals alike it’s mandatory to carry your ID (passport or ‘cedula’). For safety, you must always have an authorized guide in the boat trips and in the touristic activities. You must also check the hotel registry and certificates. It is certainly not a good idea to adventure into the sea by yourself. The ocean here may be dangerous sometimes and as it is so isolated rescue tasks are very difficult. Therefore, always be cautious and take extreme precautions when going to the sea.
Finally, it’s extremely important to contribute to the zone preservation. The animals and plants in Capurgana are not souvenirs and messing with them is forbidden by law. Animal trafficking is also forbidden and severely punished. When in Capurgana, try to be responsible. Recycle, don’t litter and use biodegradable products. If you do so, you will be helping to sustain one of the most beautiful regions in the Caribbean.
In any case, the most important thing is to have fun and relax in this hidden paradise. Come to Capurgana and you will have an amazing experience. The baby turtles, the coralline beaches, the majestic ocean and the beautiful landscapes will delight you. Capurgana is waiting for you!
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